Myth: For your baby’s ritual events, it’s okay to just be comfortable.
Truth: You can look good too.
I love ritual events for babies. Of course I love babies in general, but the ritual events allow me to celebrate. They can also be good for the new parents because they allow family, friends, and community to come together and offer love and support. However, I also understand that they can add to the new parents feeling overwhelmed. For the mom, it’s important that she get whatever support she needs. And dressing just right can help there.
From me, you get the truth.
The saying “when you look good, you feel good” always applies, but it’s important here. A new mom needs to do everything she can to feel better at a time when she’s feeling weak and tired. The ritual events might seem as if they add to those feelings, but she can also take advantage of the love and support offered.
So how do you dress to feel good for the ritual events?
If the new baby is a boy, the first event is the shalom zachar, which takes place on the first Friday night after the baby is born. The second would be the brit milah, which takes place on the baby’s eighth day. If the baby boy is a firstborn child, there’s the pidyon haben, which takes place on the 30th day. Baby girls don’t have any major ritual events that are required, but some parents make a shalom nekeivah and/or a simchat bat.
For all of these, I recommend that you, the new mom, wear basic Shabbat clothes. You don’t need to go crazy and get all fancied-up, but a simple skirt and top in a refined fabric will work well. If the outfit is in a dark or light neutral, it’s even better because that will look inherently dressier. If you want, you may even wear a flattering bright color, but that can be a bit tricky. It’s not necessarily flattering at this point. Plus, a bright color does demand some energy and you might not be feeling up to that. Or your personality in general just prefers to be a little less conspicuous. That’s why a dark or light neutral base outfit is the safest option.
The events for a boy all take place during that immediate postpartum time when you’re still recovering from the birth. Most parents who make the ritual events for girls also do them during that time. That means that you do need some comfort and you don’t need to go overboard trying to hide your tummy. A fitted outfit does work best, but it cannot be too tight because you’ll just be uncomfortable. Start with the transitional clothes that you wore in the first trimester and use whatever regular clothes fit you. If you’re nursing, wear a top in a refined fabric that accommodates that. It’s not a faux pas to wear a button-down shirt or cardigan as part of a Shabbat outfit.
No matter what, you need a flattering bright color near your face. If you do go with the recommended dark or light neutral base, you must have something near your face to brighten things up and give yourself an energy boost. Showstopper earrings are perfect. Normally, I also love showstopper necklaces or a fun oblong scarf, but those get in the way when there’s a baby, especially if you’re nursing. Fun bracelets are great if they’re sturdy, but you still need something near your face.
Unless you have a health issue, real shoes are a must here. But they need not be heels. Pretty flats are fine. If you like colored or printed shoes, go ahead and wear them. Just make sure you’re wearing an extra pop of color near your face.
If you’re wearing hair – whether your own or a sheitel – keep it simple and flattering as always. Don’t be afraid to wear your own hair in its natural state; you do not need to straighten curly hair. If possible, pull your hair up or back to keep it out of the way. If you choose a non-sheitel covering, you may choose a hat, beret, or mitpachat in a neutral color to coordinate with your base outfit or you may choose to make your covering into your pop of color. It’s your call.
If you’re making time for basic grooming, then you won’t need a lot of makeup. And if any of your events are on Shabbat itself, it’s okay to wear no makeup at all. But if any of them fall on a weekday, a basic face of makeup is a good idea because it will make you look and feel better. Just even out your skin, conceal as needed, define your eyes, and add subtle color to cheeks and lips.
Yes, these events can add to your feelings of tired and overwhelm. But they can also allow for a lot of love and support. And it’s an opportunity to get dressed nicely and look good, which will make you feel better. So take advantage and enjoy. Mazal tov.